PARIS — At Le Bon Marché department store last weekend, the first shipment of Louis Vuitton’s special monogram handbags decorated with cherry blossoms sold out in two hours flat. And in the U.S., the waiting list for the limited-edition styles — a collaboration between Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami — has surpassed 7,000 names.

Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, related those two anecdotes in support of his optimistic outlook for 2003, despite the tense geopolitical situation and a grim economic forecast.

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